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High Severity Typos! October 21, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in Uncategorized.

LipoTypo Typos are often thought of as the least serious of bugs. It’s true that they are usually very easy to fix, but it’s amazing what a difference one letter can make.

I’m reminded of a time when I got a full technical document in which the word count was misspelled throughout the document.  It was written by someone who’s native language wasn’t English. He didn’t realize how important the letter ‘o’ was in that word!

Another time there was a major announcement meant to let everyone know that an important release was not available.  Instead it mistakenly said it was now available.

I ran across this post highlighting a funny typo, followed by lots of comments full of additional embarrassing typos.

Here are some of my favorites:

* “Dead Paul,…” (instead of Dear…)
Never received a reply…

*  I once typed ‘retarted’, instead of restarted.
It was the only word in my entire email response.

* I once sent an e-mail response to a Judge stating “I will F/U” (Follow Up). She responded “Does that mean what I think it does?’

* I received a client email that read, “Please help resolve the *incontinence* I’ve been experiencing.”  (Spell check correction of inconsistency.)

* The Biggest Legal Typo in History

All it takes is one wrong letter to make a bug difference!



1. Dez (Justin Dessonville) - October 21, 2009

I admit, the first time I read this I didn’t see the problem… then I read it again and nearly choked. Of course it fit in perfectly… great find.

2. Rob Lambert - October 21, 2009

Hi Yvette,

Awesome post. I like it a lot.

I saw a typo thread doing the internet rounds the other day where ‘regards’ was spelt with a ‘t’ instead of the ‘g’.

Sometimes a spelling mistake can be small and inconsiquential. Other times, like you highlight, are far more serious.

One of the products I tested once had the name of the company spelt incorrectly…Not good at building confidence.


3. Dave Whalen - October 21, 2009

I think we’re confusing Severity with Priority and how they are defined. Most defect tracking systems use one or the other to mean the same thing. They really don’t. The best defect traking systems use both

From a system impact perspective a typo may not crash the system so it’s Severity may be low. But since it makes you look bad, it is probably a high Priority fix. Another defect may completely crash the system but since it only happens with an obscure set of keystrokes, the liklihood of reoccurance is pretty low. Severe? Absolutely! High Priority? Maybe. Maybe not. Sounds like a target for release notes for now unless there is some free time at the end of the schedule.

4. Rob Lambert - October 21, 2009

Dave – interesting point. For me, if the word count is spelt incorrectly with the ‘o’ missing like in the example in the blog. This is a high severity issue and a high priority.

It absolutely HAS to be fixed and fixed ASAP.

Severity, in my book, has nothing to do with crashing a system.

But I’ve worked places where severity is all about crashes and lack of functionality. Different places have different ways of categorising.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that in some agile environments some teams don’t even use a defect tracking tool. If they do raise them formally, they add them to the sprint or the backlog as a story and let the customer decide. So priority and severity may have nothing to do with it formally. It could just be as simple as yes or no for fixing it.


5. yvettefrancino - October 21, 2009

Thanks for all the comments!

Dave, I think you’re right. This post should probably be titled High Priority Typos indicating the urgency to be fixed right away, rather than any system downtime. I can see you are a good QA straight-man to catch this error in terminology usage!

I, personally, don’t like the tools that ask for both Priority and Severity unless someone is really going to do something with that data. It can get pretty confusing and complicated and I believe typically people just rate these both the same, indicating how important it is to fix the thing. (Already causing plenty of debate.)

I’m all for the agile approach that Rob describes…though, I know post-production bugs probably need more evaluation than a”fix or no fix” rating. Sounds like a good topic for a future blog post.

In the mean time, just consider this post about

Really Bad Typos (Though, strangely enough, that last one is actually referred to as the “Best Typo in History.” “Bad” and “Best” are practically opposites. There’s so much ambiguity in the English language, isn’t there?)

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